A Question About Free

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine about the concept of free. He was saying that offering free items these days, which almost everyone recommends as a way to drive people to one’s blog, website, or newsletter, is passe and just doesn’t work anymore. He used as his example the free food given out at places like BJ’s Wholesale Club on a weekend and how he always passes all that stuff by.


by Derek Hatfield

Of course, his mentioning something like that to someone like me doesn’t quite work out. When I go to BJ’s on a Saturday, one of my pleasures is making sure I get to scarf up many of the free goodies, There’s no way I’d ever just up and buy anything I didn’t get to taste first, and I love sampling foods… at least foods I’ll eat.

However, his overall point seems to be one to consider. Let me ask you the question outright: how many of you really notice increases in visitors, increases in subscribers or increases in anything else when you offer something free? I have to say that my friend (okay, it’s Mitch) isn’t far off base.

For instance, how many of you have noticed the freebie there to the left, the book download of The Synergy of Business and Blogging? How many of you who saw the original post when I wrote it in January actually went ahead and downloaded it? Unfortunately for me, 1&1, my hosting company, has changed their start up page so I no longer have access to seeing how many times it was downloaded, and Google Analytics doesn’t tell me that either, but I’m betting it’s been a rare thing for me or the people who created it.

Eliminating myself from the mix, how do most of the rest of you feel about downloading free stuff? Are you wary that you’ll get viruses? Do you think you won’t get anything out of it? Have you just gone blind to the concept of free stuff posted on a blog or website? Or do you have other reasons if you don’t download, as well as reasons you do? Inquiring minds would like to know.

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Are You Often Disappointed By “Free”?

I think I give a lot of advice on this blog, as well as a lot of commentary. I’ve helped a lot of people by showing the results of research, or testing things so they don’t have to. I don’t believe I’ve ever really held back on a topic when I’m writing about something unless it was personal.


by Andrew Steinmetz

With that said, I’ve also sometimes wondered why none of the products I’ve created sell here. I know I said that I don’t expect this blog to make a lot of money, but I do expect it to make some. Many comments indicate that there are some relatively new folks who visit and glean information from this blog, yet I’ve never sold any of my books or my webinar from this blog, though luckily I’ve sold them from other places.

What’s leading me into this conversation? The other day someone who I follow on Twitter posted something that said you could learn how someone else made $8,000.00 while on vacation through membership sites, and if you followed the link you could learn how. Well, I thought that was intriguing, as I’ve thought about membership sites, and so I followed the link and got to this page that I’m not going to advertise right now. There was a short video which said if you gave your name and email address, there would be 5 videos that would explain how she’s able to make great money through membership sites. I figured that within 5 videos I might glean some pretty good information, so I gave up the information to one of my rarely used sites; that’s how I subscribe to many things.

I got immediate access to all 5 videos, and I started watching them; took me an entire day, as I had other things to do as well, but eventually I got through all of them. And when I was finished? The only thing I got out of it was that she’s got all of her membership sites set up for recurring billing; that’s it. She talked about concepts, about statistics, and showed a lot of other people’s blogs, but never got to what I wanted to hear, which was just what someone might put into a membership site.

For instance, she mentioned a website where people could get together to talk about autistic children. Okay, that sounded good, but is there content in there? Are there videos or podcasts? How much? Is any material original, or gleaned from other sources? See, to me that’s pertinent information; that’s the type of thing that would help me decide if I wanted to not only create a membership site, or even to join one. I’ve actually joined a couple here and there in the past, only to be disappointed by one thing or another.

Now here’s the thing. Within hours of getting the link to the videos, the emails started coming about a course on how to create a membership site. At that point I pretty much figured I probably wasn’t going to get anything out of the videos, but I found it amazing that, in total, the videos were about 80 minutes long. How can anyone talk for 80 minutes and not say anything, and not be a politician?

The strange question to ask then is are you ever disappointed in free things, and do you deserve the right to be? I’m of two minds. One, if it cost you nothing and it didn’t work quite right, then you got what you paid for. Two, if something took up a lot of your time and at the end you got nothing out of it, then that’s something entirely different. That’s like sitting through an entire presentation geared to get you to pay someone thousands of dollars to create multiple websites for you by telling you how much money other people make and not telling you how other than “they sold cat brushes and made $100,000 in a week!”

What are your thoughts on this type of thing? Do you like the tease to buy, or will you buy if someone can at least offer you something up front that maybe you didn’t know?


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What Do We Expect For Free?

A few days ago I saw a comment on another blog’s posting that made me start thinking about this concept of the word “free”.

It was a fairly innocuous comment stating to the writer of the blog that he would have liked to see a little bit more information on some of what she was sharing with all of us to get her insight as to why she was recommending some things that she was recommending. I wrote back that I thought she was giving us a lot already and that I was at least happy for all the time that she was putting into giving us what she was giving us.

However, it got me thinking about it just a bit more because I realized that there are times when I am like everybody else in expecting a little bit more than what I’m getting from something even if it happens to be free. There were a few people who made comments on a review post I wrote on Six Figure Blogger Blueprint wishing that the author had given us a little bit more detail on how to specifically do something, and I remember thinking at the time “hey, it’s free, what do we want?” And yet, when I think about it, there are a lot of things that I get for free online that I’ll write about.

For instance, I’m running a WordPress blog. There are times when I’m complaining about something, such as those constant updates that seem to irritate most of us, and every once in a while I remember that this is a free program. There are a couple of other things I’ve written about that I absolutely hate, such as Disqus, Intense Debate and Blogger, but when you think about it those things are free also. Of course, I’ve chosen not to use any of those things, and instead pay for my hosting and my blog, and don’t filter my comments using either of those other two things I mentioned or anything else, but it’s not much different than just openly complaining about something that’s free.

What should we really expect from “free”? Should we expect that everything we get for free give us full details as if we were paying for it? I’m thinking that’s what blogs are for, because there are a lot of us who give a lot of information out to people absolutely free. I think I’ve done some tutorials on this blog and one of my other blogs on how to do things step by step, and yet I don’t get paid for any of those things. I don’t mind that because it’s a blog after all, and I like sharing information whenever I can. At the same time, you notice over there on the left that I have three things that I’ve created, and each one of them also has some step-by-step information that I am expecting someone to pay for if they want that information.

Here’s the thing about “free”. “Free” still takes a lot of time to create. Whereas I can write a blog post usually in less than five minutes, there are people who take upwards of an hour or more to put together a blog post. How many of you have actually written a book? How many of you have actually written a report of some kind outside of school work? These things do take time to put together, especially if someone is trying to do a good job. If they do it like I do anything, they probably start off with an outline, then a brief sketch as to what each outline point is supposed to contain, then they write or create the thing, then they edit the thing, then they might take the time to pretty it up somewhat before it’s ready for delivery. I’m bad when it comes to the “pretty up” part, but I’m not so bad at the rest of it.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to have some kind of expectation that what we are either going to use or read at least in some fashion addresses the topic we’re hoping it does. Getting something free and finding out it has nothing to do with what it said it did is diversionary and sneaky, and that’s not right. But for everything else, I think we have the right to try it out, and if it works for us or we can get something out of it then great. If we can’t get anything out of it or it doesn’t work right, then at least it didn’t cost us anything and we should probably be happy for that. It doesn’t mean that something free can’t be criticized, but it does mean that the level of criticism should match how much it cost us.

It’s just something I’ve been thinking about over the past few days as I remembered something I had written a while back ago asking the question How Do You Value. How do we decide when something we get for free is valuable even if it doesn’t give us everything we want?

A Bag Full Of Stuff? I Love Stuff!

Okay, this is a cheapy, but hey, as the title says, I love stuff. In this case, John Chow found a link to a site called Market Leverage that’s having some kind of special promotion and is giving away free stuff. Some of it is standard logo stuff, but the two big prizes are the $200 Am Ex gift card and a Nano iPod. Hey, with the price of gas, that card is golden, and I could listen to fresh tunes while pumping gas (do kids still use “fresh” as a phrase these days?).

Anyway, visit John’s site for details on entering the contest and getting more than just one entry. And there you go; I’m just sharing the link love tonight! And, since I’m going for the cheapo, let’s go for some sex appeal also:

RCA 2-Line Speakerphone Basic Phone - 2 x Phone Line(s)

RCA 2-Line Speakerphone Basic Phone – 2 x Phone Line(s)








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